How an 'Interview First' Hiring Strategy Empowers Job Seekers and Promotes Diversity

September 20th, 2017
Jon-Mark Sabel
Candidate Experience,
Recruiting Teams

Despite rapidly evolving HR technology and hiring trends (most of which is for the better), one thing remains constant: the job application.

Are you investing heavily in the candidate’s experience? No job seeker gets to experience it until they fill out your application. 

Do you have a phenomenal CRM? Every nurtured candidate needs to apply first. 

This is not necessarily a problem, per se. Job seekers need to get into your tracking system somehow.The problem arises when applicants cannot find the appropriate position for their experience and skillset, and feel forced to apply for anything vaguely resembling what they think they want. This is bad for, well, everybody.

Most job titles are employer-specific and full of jargon. It is difficult for job seekers to identify the openings that match their skills and experience. Recruiters, on the other hand, live and breathe job requisitions. 

So what happens if you flip the script?

Rather than job seekers matching themselves to jobs, what if recruiters did it for them? By letting job seekers “introduce themselves” with a short video, Children’s Mercy Hospital does exactly that.

“Introduce Yourself”: A Hiring Strategy that Widens the Talent Pipeline, Empowers Job Seekers, and Promotes Diversity

Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH) of Kansas City pioneered their “Introduce Yourself” program in 2015. Spearheaded by Molly Weaver, CMH’s Director of Talent Acquisition, this interview-first process continues to amaze. 

Here’s how it works:

Rather than requiring job seekers to submit a resume and application, Children’s Mercy encourages them “introduce” themselves with a short, recorded video. 

Job seekers who opt into the “Introduce Yourself” process respond to two simple questions: 

  1. What are your skills and experience?
  2. What would you like to do for Children’s Mercy?

Every morning, two CMH recruiters review the previous day’s introductions and assign them to recruiters in the appropriate department. Those recruiters then reach out to each job seeker, pointing them in the direction of the right application.

Rather than applying to a specific role, job seekers express interest in Children’s Mercy and are directed to openings that are a good fit. 

The “Introduce Yourself” program works on several different levels, none of which are healthcare-hiring specific:

  • It appeals to previous applicants frustrated by a lack of communication (think: “if only someone would talk to me…”).
  • It enables those in hard-to-fill roles - like nurses - to express interest without dedicating 30-45 minutes to an application. By significantly lowering the barrier to entry, This effectively widens CMH’s talent pipeline.
  • It lets recruiters match job seekers to jobs that might not have been available at the time the job seeker was applying.
  • It helps job seekers confused by the long roster of CMH-specific job titles (positions like “Front Desk Clerk” are hidden behind vague titles like “Access Representative”) find the right position to apply for.

You can see CMH’s “Introduce Yourself” hiring funnel below. Notice how the application is the third step in the hiring process:

cmh hiring

By letting interested individuals “Introduce Themselves”, Children’s Mercy does not assume they are familiar with the range of job titles listed on the CMH careers site. Instead, they simply assume that job seekers know how to talk about themselves. 

A legal aside: the distinction between “job seekers” and “applicants” is an important one. “Job applicants” are subject to affirmative action laws, while “job seekers” are not. Individuals who introduce themselves to CMH are not applicants, they are merely expressing interest in employment. (Much like how visitors to your careers site are not “applicants”, but you still might target them with online ads). 

Widen the Talent Pipeline

The best hire for each job requisition might not be searching your career pages when the opening is posted - but they might have been searching the day before. 

When job seekers introduce themselves, they are making their availability apparent to your recruiting team. Used in this way, a video interviewing platform takes on the role of a traditional CRM, with the added benefit of having a sharable interview on file for each job seeker.

In the past year, Children’s Mercy opened up its “Introduce Yourself” program to internal applicants, encouraging internal mobility throughout the organization. Internal job seekers are asked an additional question: “What brought you to Children’s Mercy?” While helpful for internal applicants, “(re)Introduce Yourself” is also valuable for CMH recruiters, since they have a waiting bucket of ambitious applicants with a history of success at Children’s Mercy.

Empower Job Seekers

Spechelle Day (her real name) was just like any other job applicant. She knew what she wanted to do, and she knew her skills. She did not know how to navigate the jargon-laced job listings created by her employer of choice (Children’s Mercy Hospital). 

Spechelle’s ideal job - greeting and assisting visitors as they entered the hospital - was hidden behind the unhelpful title of “Access Representative.” Before she “introduced” herself to Children’s Mercy, Spechelle applied to the wrong posting a total of 42 times over the course of four years.

On closer inspection, it emerged that Spechelle’s situation was not unique. As Molly Weaver explained in her keynote at Digital Disruption: 

“On average, of the people who introduce themselves, they have applied with us between seven - that’s the average - and 63 times. So when I read a rejected candidate survey and it says: ‘if somebody would just talk to me, I know I’d have a job there,’ I think they’re telling the truth.” - Molly Weaver, Director of Talent Acquisition, Children’s Mercy

Spechelle Day has since left Children’s Mercy Hospital and is now enrolled in nursing school. She plans on returning once she completes her degree.

Foster Inclusive Hiring Practices

When you give every job seeker a voice, a funny thing happens: qualified job seekers seem to materialize from thin air. 

Children’s Mercy makes 58% more diverse hires through “Introduce Yourself”, compared to their traditional hiring process (28% vs 18%). 

Molly Weaver attributes this to “putting people over paper.” In their weekly talent acquisition meetings, CMH recruiters refer to candidates by name, asking if the most standout “Introduce Yourselfers” have been placed yet. When was the last time your recruiters did the same for a name on a resume?

Giving people a voice (and letting them bypass traditional obstacles and biases in the job search) helps foster more inclusive hiring practices.

Beta-Testing a Video First Approach

Everyone knows that change can be hard, particularly when it comes to legacy hiring processes. The great thing about CMH’s approach is that it is very easy to implement and requires little to no commitment. 

You don’t need to throw out your traditional hiring process. Children’s Mercy still uses an application-first approach alongside “Introduce Yourself.” The two processes can live side-by-side. 

You can host an “Introduce Yourself” portal on your careers site for a month, a week, or even a day. Give it a try: you’ll be surprised at the devoted, quality talent you’ve been screening out.

Hear more about Children's Mercy's innovative hiring strategy, and how you can implement a similar approach today: 

See the Presentation

Watch their full presentation from Digital Disruption 2017.